Repeal of law exposes complaints against officer who choked Eric Garner

Gov. Cuomo recently signed legislation repealing a state law that shielded police misconduct and complaints from public view.

Eric Garner placed in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo (Video still/ Ramsey Orta/YouTube)
(Video still/ Ramsey Orta/YouTube)

The disciplinary records of the former cop who killed Eric Garner on a busy NYC sidewalk in 2014 have been disclosed after years of secrecy.  

A recent change in state law allows the public to take a closer look into the files of police officers.

Daniel Pantaleo, who was fired from the NYPD for the chokehold death of Garner, had seven misconduct complaints against him in the five years prior to his fatal encounter with the victim, New York Daily News reports. 

READ MORE: Kendrick Sampson on ‘traumatic’ clash with LAPD, using his voice in Hollywood

According to city records, among the complaints are a June 2012 top-and-frisk incident, an allegation that he refused to obtain medical treatment for someone in need, and a use-of-force accusation in March 2013.

Pantaleo was fired last August, more than five years after Garner’s death.

Gwen Carr, left, mother of Eric Garner, speaks during a news conference after leaving court in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

“I can’t breathe” were the last words Garner said before he died on a Staten Island street. 

Ramsey Orta recorded Pantaleo’s chokehold-killing of Garner, who was accused of selling loose cigarettes. Pantaleo held Garner around the neck on the ground until he lost consciousness.

After Orta’s video went viral, he allegedly became the target of a police harassment campaign. 

Orta was sentenced to four years in 2016 for possession of a weapon, as well as drug charges. He became eligible for early release this month due to the coronavirus pandemic, theGrio previously reported. His sentence is officially over on July 11.

Ramsey Orta

Ramsey Orta (Facebook)

In 2015, Orta filed a lawsuit alleging that he was poisoned while in Rikers Island. He and 19 other inmates alleged that they were rendered ill after guards tampered with their meatloaf.

Orta told Time Magazine that he regretted getting involved in the Garner case. He said the public attention was overwhelming.

“It just put me in a messed-up predicament,” he told the publication, adding that he became the victim of consistent police harassment.

Meanwhile, details about the past complaints against Pantaleo became public record after Gov. Cuomo signed legislation repealing a state law that shielded police misconduct and complaints from the curious public. 

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!